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Why Chinese developers are making high quality ACG mobile games?

by Cheng(Orange) Qi on 10/05/18 10:23:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

In the past year or two, there have been a number of mobile games made by Chinese developers with very authentic Japanese ACG look and feel that become top grossing games in Japan and South Korea. That makes my friends wonder why Chinese developers want to make such games and why they can do so well. Herein you will find my personal opinions.

 

Why Chinese developers want to make ACG mobile games?

1. Young people in China, especially those born after 1985 or 1990 (Generation Z), have been greatly influenced by Japanese ACG (Anime, Comic and Games) culture. As these young people graduated from schools/universities, ACG started becoming a very important subculture in China. Many of today’s well-known teams or companies were founded around 2010, when these young people were in their 20s or mid-20s.

  • MICA Team was founded in 2008, and then they developed Girls' Frontline
  • miHoYo was founded in 2012, and then they developed Collapse Gakuen 3
  • Bilibili was founded in 2009, and then they became the biggest ACG streaming and video platform in China and published many successful ACG games

 

2. At first there were actually not many teams there. They tried to create this kind of games just because they love them so much. But after the success of several games in China, more and more developers and publishers started flooding into the market. Now there are hundreds of studios/companies developing ACG games in China.

  • This market looks very profitable, because marketing costs can be kept very low if you know how to use the community for promotion. Take miHoYo as an example:
  • Year

    Marketing Costs

    Revenue

    2014

    CNY 4,631,000

    CNY 103,161,000

    2015

    CNY 13,901,600

    CNY 174,799,900

    2016

    CNY 34,947,300

    CNY 424,022,300

    2017 (first half)

    CNY 51,622,400

    CNY 587,924,300

  • Due to the high loyalty of users, such games can easily survive for many years. Take the platform of Bilibili as an example:
    • 80%+ users were born between 1990 and 2009.
    • The yearly retention rate of full members is 79%+.
    • Each user spends 70+ minutes on the platform everyday on average
  • These games promote more positive and positive emotions among players.
    • Vice President of Bilibili: “The revenue from traditional games comes from hatred, from the competition between players, from the belief that I should be stronger than others; the revenue from ACG games comes from love, from the belief that I love the character.”

 

Why Chinese developers can do so well in this area?

  1. If you look at the well-known teams or companies today, you will find that the founders were all deeply influenced by Japanese ACG culture. Before started working on this kind of game, some of them had been creating fan art, some had been tech otakus for a long time, and some had been running ACG communities…

 

  1. There are already many good Chinese artists there that can create Japanese look characters and environment. And the developers learned how to work together with famous Japanese CVs, or even got their game licensed.

 

  1. There were not many experienced developers for PC and console games in China, but for mobile games, Chinese developers started almost at the same time as the developers in other countries. Today, their ability to develop mobile games is as good as, or sometimes even better than foreign developers in some specific fields.

 

  1. Bilibili, NetEase Manga, Tencent Manga and social media have made ACG culture easier to spread across China and attract a lot of attention. China has so many people, that even it were a niche market, it would have enough users and generate enough revenue to feed multiple products and development teams. This gives the developers the opportunity to focus on what they are good at. Nowadays, there are more than 80 million core ACG fans in China, and more than 310 million potential ACG fans.
    1. If you compare Bilibili with Nico Nico (the Japanese website that inspired Bilibili), you'll find that Bilibili has nearly five times as many views as Nico Nico.

 

Look back in history

  • Stage I: before 2013 - The pioneers were experimenting and accumulating experience
  • Stage II: 2014 ~ 2016 - Several products stood out and succeeded, attracting widespread attention and more developers to join. (That was also when mobile games started growing rapidly in China)
  • Stage II: 2017 ~ now - Through self-publishing or working with experienced publishers, trying to be commercially successful in overseas markets as well

Year

Company

Product

Event

2008

MICA Team

 

Was founded

2009

Bilibili

 

Was founded

2012

MICA Team

 

Released an art design book portraying a world with the elements of girls + guns

2011

miHoYo

FlyMe2theMoon

Got app store featured in China, Japan and United States. The protagonist in this game became one of the main character in their Collapse Gakuen series later。

2012

miHoYo

 

Was founded

2012

miHoYo

Collapse Gakuen

Released in China

2013

MICA Team

Bakery Girls

Released a SLG game with the elements of girls + guns, can be treated as a source of inspiration, or even a prototype of 소녀전선 (Girls' Frontline)

2014

miHoYo

Collapse Gakuen 2

Released in China. With the help from Bilibili, this game became very successful.

2015

NetEase

Kai-ri-sei Million Arthur

Published in mainland China.

2016

miHoYo

Collapse Gakuen 3

Released in China

2016

NetEase

Onmyoji

Released in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan.

2016

Bilibili

Fate Grand Order

Released in China

2016

MICA Team

Girls' Frontline

Released in mainland China and Japan

2017

MICA Team

Girls' Frontline

Released in Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea

2017

Bilibili

Azur Lane

Released in China and Japan.

2017

NetEase

Onmyoji

Released in Japan, South Korea and Thailand

2017

miHoYo

Collapse Gakuen 3

Released in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, SEA

2017

Bilibili

 

Established a “Chinese Original IP” section

2017

NetEase

Forever 7th Capital

Released in mainland China

2018

NetEase

Forever 7th Capital

Released in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea.

2018

MICA Team

Girls' Frontline

English version released

2018

miHoYo

Collapse Gakuen 3

Released globally

2018

Bilibili

Azur Lane

Released in South Korea

2018

NetEase

非人学园

Released in mainland China

2018

Bilibili

 

The company is listed on the NASDAQ

2018

NetEase

Onmyoji

Released in Vietnam and English-speaking regions.

Released on Steam.

 

 


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